installing 11.1 next to 10.3 -- share boot partition?

My current system has Windows XP on my first drive, and openSUSE 10.3 installed on the second drive, with separate partitions for root, /home, and /usr (along with a swap partition, an NTFS partition and another ext3 partition used for data). It’s a home system, used mostly by one person (me), and I don’t run any web servers or mail servers or anything.

I want to install 11.1, but I want to keep 10.3 as it is, just in case I encounter problems with 11.1.

Is it recommended to use a single common /boot partition when installing multiple Linux systems on one computer? Do conflicts come up when two OS’s (two versions of openSUSE in this case) are accessing the same boot files? I have been experimenting on an old computer I have, and it seems to be awkward to have separate /boot folders on each OS’s root partition.

Here’s what I want to do, using gparted to move and resize partitions:

  1. Move the /boot folder on my current 10.3 to a separate partition, following instructions on HOWTO: Move /boot to its own partition « Tek Guru
  2. Copy the /home folder of 10.3 to a new partition to use as /home for 11.1
  3. Install 11.1, formatting unallocated drive space into a root partition, and mounting the /boot and /home partitions that I’ve made in the previous steps. I’ll install GRUB in the MBR as that has worked for me before. I won’t bother putting /usr on its own partition this time.

Is this a good idea?

Will 11.1 install itself properly on a /boot partition that already has other stuff on it?

Are there any drawbacks to sharing /boot partition?

Does it matter if I mount /boot as read-write or read-only, or even if I don’t mount it at all? My preference would be to mount it as read-write, but I’ve seen people saying otherwise.

One more question: With openSUSE 10.3 and 11.1 both installed, I’ll be able to boot into either, and then go through Yast2 and change Boot Loader settings. Will each OS think it has its own GRUB installation? Or will they both see the same GRUB that points to the same /boot partition? On my experimental computer, with each OS having a separate boot folder in their root partitions, I managed to mangle things up by making Boot Loader changes through Yast2, and I don’t want to mangle anything on my everyday computer.

Sorry if these are obvious questions, I just want to get some advice before I start messing around. Let me know if I’ve left out any details that would helpful.


Imo you do NOT use the same /boot for several systems. One of the things you find there is your kernel and every one of the systems will have a different kernel!.

You can share data partitions like /home, etc.